FIFA is a football simulation franchise developed primarily for PC, Xbox, and Playstation consoles. As a UX designer on the FIFA 20 and FIFA 21 titles, I was responsible for the creation and quality of design deliverables with a primary focus on the FIFA core experience and the newly introduced “VOLTA Football” mode.
VOLTA Football was created with the intent to revitalize the FIFA Street game series (last updated in 2012). With a focus on player customization, personal expression, and arcade-style gameplay, VOLTA expands on the existing FIFA product by providing new and returning users with a casual alternative to the traditional FIFA experience. With an ambitious suite of features, including online multiplayer, single-player story, and character customization, VOLTA attempts to appeal to a wide variety of player types.
As a UX designer, I was responsible for maintaining and advancing FIFA's overall user experience. By joining EA during the middle stages of VOLTA's first year of development, I took on the role of the primary UX owner for the game mode. Additionally, as I was (at the time) the most senior UX designer on the FIFA team, I worked with the production and leadership teams to champion UX initiatives and improvements for FIFA 22 and beyond.
Working on FIFA 20 and FIFA 21, I practiced end-to-end ownership of features, from concept to implementation. This process entailed several steps, including UX workshops, low/high-fidelity wireframing, interactive prototyping, and user-testing.
Over time, my role on the project expanded to include working directly with the Production team in defining and documenting "Change Requests". These smaller scale feature changes allowed me to advocate for Quality of Life usability improvements that heightened the overall FIFA experience. By taking full ownership of UX-based Change Requests, I was required to define and document all aspects of the design within a Creative Brief. The completed brief was then passed on to the relevant development team for implementation.
The largest UX design challenge of working on FIFA was the product's yearly release schedule. As the development cycle for each release is so short, it was a hard reality that it was not possible to implement all intended work within a single year. Due to this, it was essential to be able to communicate the value of potential features or improvements in order to secure the required development time for implementation.
To achieve this, I worked to introduce new rapid prototyping software (AxureRP) for use within the UX team. To ensure a smooth introduction to this new software I ran and recorded a series of introductory tutorial sessions for the UX/UI team. By enabling ourselves to create more interactive prototypes much earlier in the development cycle, the UX/UI team is now able to more quickly present the tangible value of their designs to the FIFA leadership team.
Another substantial challenge I experienced was the overall scale of designing for the new VOLTA game mode. As I was responsible for VOLTA's overall UX, I was required to look beyond individual features and understand how the entire mode came together as a complete experience. To achieve this, I created mode-wide site maps and interactive prototypes intended to simulate the experience of a user navigating between each sub-feature within VOLTA. This exercise gave me a deeper understanding of VOLTA and allowed me to identify and redesign a number of navigational friction points.
After the world-wide release, both FIFA 20 and VOLTA received largely positive reviews. I feel very privileged to have been a part of bringing VOLTA to life and feel it has helped me to grow as a designer. As the most senior UX designer on the project team, I was required to take on a self-directed role and quickly learned to take ownership of my work, while communicating with several other teams and disciplines.
As previously mentioned the one year release cycle for the FIFA franchise often results in features being deferred to future releases. Due to this a portion of my design work intended for release in FIFA 21 was instead shipped in FIFA 22. While I did not work directly on the FIFA 22 release cycle I was proud to see that the newly improved FTUE (First Time User Experience) flow and Main Menu were fully implemented using my previous designs.
The FIFA main menu was a large scale feature update with the intent of modernizing the FIFA menu for the new console generation (Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X). To accomplish this we moved away from the legacy 2D environment menu and instead upgraded to a full 3D scene environment. We then continued to build on this concept by featuring the user's 3D created character model, and expanding the design to other sub-menus across the title (FIFA Ultimate Team, and Volta).
The FIFA 22 FTUE flow was a collaborative effort between myself and the project's Narrative Lead. Our goal for this new flow was to create a fun and engaging onboarding experience for new and returning users. To accomplish this we blended a cinematic narrative storyline with diagetic UX/UI prompts that had the user set up their user account as part of the world's narrative flow. These tasks and activities included: choosing account settings (difficulty, controls), avatar character creation (base 3D model, outfit selection, physical traits), and gameplay mechanic tutorials. This flow concludes by launching the user into their first full game of FIFA 22 with a fully completed avatar, and base understanding of gameplay mechanics. Seeing this flow implemented I am proud of how it came together, and feel that it is a strong step forward to making the user's onboarding experience more fun and engaging.
See below for a series of images captured from the FIFA 22 FTUE flow